D/C: I don't own Rurouni Kenshin.
Okay, people, here goes another RK one-shot of mine. I've worked really hard on this one and I really hope you all like it. Ok, so read on, and I'll meet you at the end of this, ok?
The street was a pretty haze of colors before her eyes. The traffic lights, the multicolored banners and signs…they were all so beautiful. She wondered how she noticed them before…but then again, that might be the effect of alcohol.
Kaoru shook her head in an attempt to shake out the dizziness which clouded it. She knew she shouldn't have drunk so much Sake at the party, but that Chizuru had challenged her and there was no way she was going to lose a challenge in front of that jerk. Of course, she had won the challenge…but now she strongly felt that she shouldn't have, same way she shouldn't have driven her car when she had drunk six glasses of Sake…and that was no small amount.
Her eyes blurred all over and the headache in her head now felt like someone was hitting her repeatedly on the head with a big mallet.
She shook her head again and tried to focus on the road before her, which was nearly empty except for a passing car every now and then or a man hurrying home after an exhausting day at work.
C'mon, Kaoru…she urged herself…just a few more blocks and you'll get back home…back to Kenshin's side…now pull yourself together!
But her eyes had now become so blurred she couldn't even tell the numbers on her dashboard. The headache in her head increased till she felt it was going to split her head into two.
Her hands slipped off the stirring wheel…
Kenshin's waiting for you to come back…
Her head drooped down to her chest and her hands fell onto her lap. Slowly, her foot slid off the pedal…
People outside would've thought she was attempting some really weird and difficult stunt, but she wasn't. Her car spun wildly on the icy roads, before finally slamming into a solitary lamp post. Kaoru lurched forward and her head slammed onto the glass…
Kaoru's eyes snapped open, and she jolted up in her bed.
She was breathing heavily and with difficulty, and sweat covered her neck and face. She grabbed a stitch in her chest as she slowly looked around.
She sighed in relief when she saw that she was still in her room, in her bed…not in a car, not drunk. It was all just a nightmare…but a really vivid nightmare at that.
She turned to her bedside cabinet and picked up her alarm clock. She squinted at the time, trying to make sure if she was reading the time right…it can't be eight in the morning, can it? Yes; it was eight in the morning.
She was late! She and Kenshin were both an hour late! They slept through the alarm bell! She turned around in her bed to shake her husband - she and Kenshin were already married six months ago, they just didn't think they could wait till they graduate, and everything was going great so far - awake, and was surprised to see that he wasn't there.
Kaoru frowned. Could Kenshin have left without me? Could he have gone to university without me? No, he can't have…
She got up from her bed and left the room. 'Kenshin?' she called out through the house. 'Kenshin, where are you?'
Kenshin didn't reply. Kaoru went into each room, checking if he was there, but he wasn't any where to be seen. Indeed, Kenshin seemed to have left without her.
Kaoru felt anger build up inside here. How dare he leave without her? Why didn't he wake her up so she could go with him? Why didn't he wait for her like he always did?
Fuming, she darted into the bathroom. She cleaned herself up and washed her face thoroughly with water. She also found her head was throbbing slightly…but she assured herself it was probably from the nightmare she had.
She quickly got dressed and hurried out of the apartment. She knew the bus would've probably taken off long ago, and since the car keys weren't on the peg where Kenshin always hung them, she concluded that her husband had taken the car…meaning she had to catch herself a cab and fast; she was already running forty minutes late.
Surprisingly though, when she stood on the curb and called out for a cab, no one stopped. They just passed by her without even slowing down. What was wrong with them? She wanted to know why they were ignoring her, did she look wrong or something? What was going on?
She waited for another five minutes, but no cab seemed to want to stop for her. Fuming, she finally decided to go to university on foot. As she walked, she pondered in her head of a reason which might've made Kenshin leave without her; after all, they always went together.
Could they have argued last night? Could they have fought over something? But that was ridiculous; she really couldn't remember any fights or quarrels yesterday. And what's with that headache anyway? It seemed to have slightly increased; she decided to check up with the clinic once she got there.
Fortunately for her, the university campus wasn't too far away from their apartment building, and she got there in twenty minutes time. The halls and yards were all empty; every one was probably in class by now. She decided to skip her trip to the clinic and head to her lecture; maybe she'd be able to catch some of it if she hurried.
She got to her lecture hall, knocked on the door and pushed it open. The professor stood by the board, explaining something as he scribbled on it. He frowned for a moment when Kaoru walked in, his eyes lingering on her for a moment before he returned to his explanation.
She hugged her books tightly to her chest and hurried inside to find an empty seat. She plopped down on one, placed her books on the table, and looked around the hall…looked around for Kenshin. And there he was. She saw him sitting beside his best friend, Sanosuke Sagara and listening to the professor with rapt attention. She tried to catch his eye…or even catch Sano's eyes, but even he seemed so concentrated on the lecture. She finally gave up and started listening to the lecture.
She frowned when she realized that the Professor was lecturing them on an entirely different topic from the one they were doing on Friday. When did he get to that one? Kaoru mentally cursed herself; she just had to be late on the day when the professor started on a new topic…simply great!
She tried to note down whatever she heard, deciding she'd ask the professor on the lecture when it ended. The bell rang, and she quickly picked up her books and headed towards him, but he was already walking out through the door, with five students flocked around him.
Kaoru scowled. This will have to wait. Maybe I should go talk to Kenshin now…
She turned around and started to head to her husband. But he was already walking to the door, with Sano at his side bombarding him with questions about the lecture.
'Kenshin…' she started. Why wasn't he waiting for her?
But a group of chattering students heading for the door blocked her way to him. She grunted and allowed them to pass, but when they did, she found that Kenshin and Sano had already left.
What was wrong? Didn't he see her? Didn't he hear her calling him? Why was he ignoring her like that? Again she started to wonder if she and Kenshin had an argument the other night…could Kenshin be really angry at her for something and that was why he was avoiding her like this?
She massaged her temples and tried to remember what happened yesterday. They had gone and had lunch in the mall, and then she went and bought a new dress for the party…
Wait! The party!
Did she do something there which upset Kenshin? No, wait, Kenshin didn't go with her to that party…did they argue about that? When she got home Kenshin was already asleep…so maybe he was angry at her because she went to the party without him and returned home late? Could that be the reason? She felt she really had to talk to him to straighten this out…and the party was probably the reason she had this headache; she had got home late and didn't get enough sleep…it was bound to wear off soon; she didn't have to worry the nurse about it.
She wanted to talk to someone. But every one seemed pretty preoccupied with his own business to even notice her, and Kenshin and Sano had gone and were no where in sight. She wondered where her best friend, Misao Mackimachi was…she hadn't seen her in the lecture hall today, and she'd never miss Misao's long ponytail.
She saw Aoshi Shinomori, Misao's boyfriend, in a distance and headed towards him; she could ask him about Misao. She stopped short when she saw him talking to the headmistress…she really didn't want to interrupt a conversation between two of her least favorite people; she really didn't know what Misao saw in Aoshi; he was so cold. And the headmistress…well, she was nobody's favorite. She overheard a part of their conversation as she passed by, though.
'No, Misao isn't coming today…she called me and said she was down with a terrible headache…' Aoshi was saying.
So Misao was suffering from a headache too? Figures. She remembered leaving before Misao, and the girl had seemed pretty exhausted then…even though she had wished to party some more.
Hey! Maybe Kenshin thought I'd be probably tired after the party and that's why he didn't wake me up! But why? I told him I wanted to go to university today even if I looked like a girl who had just walked out of her grave!
She sighed and headed for her next lecture, hoping against hope that she'll be able to sort this out with Kenshin before the day was over…and hoping that she'd be able to get rid of the headache as well.
The bell rang, announcing the end of the day. Kaoru collected her things and headed to the door along with all the eager-to-get-home students.
She hadn't been able to sort matters with Kenshin yet. He wasn't in any of her lectures that day and she didn't see him or Sano the whole time. She was feeling really desperate for human contact now; she hadn't spoken to anybody the whole time! She really didn't have many friends around…Misao, Sano and Kenshin…and sometimes Aoshi…were the only people she ever talked to; she was kinda shy around people.
As she walked out of the door, Kenshin passed by her without a second glance. The smile which had broken onto her face faltered as he walked away.
What was wrong with him? Why was he treating her like that?
Holding her books firmly, she went after him, determined not to let him out of her sight. She followed him to the parking lot and to his car. She blinked as she saw that this wasn't the same car they had yesterday…where was their old black Taurus? This one was a Jeep and it was navy blue in color…how and when did Kenshin change their car? Or maybe he had just borrowed this car from someone?
Eep! Had she forgotten the car at the party place and hitched the ride with someone and that's why Kenshin had gone and rented a car or borrowed it or something? Why couldn't she remember?
'Hi, Kenshin,' she said in a firm tone. Kenshin didn't look up. Oh, for God's sake! She narrowed her eyes at him. 'Well, you can at least offer me a ride…you don't expect me to go home walking, do you?'
Kenshin looked up from the car lock this time, sighed and shook his head before climbing into the driver's seat. Kaoru took that as a yes, and reached for the door handle just as Kenshin got out of the driver's seat and went back to the car trunk.
Kaoru continued to watch him as she climbed into the passenger's seat and closed the door. He fetched a folder out of the trunk, slammed it shut and climbed into his seat again.
Kaoru looked fixedly out her window. If he was going to ignore her, then she was going to do the same thing as well; two can play his childish game. She knew they will eventually need to discuss this, and when they did, she intended to let him make the first move.
They got to their apartment building fairly quick. They got out of the car and slammed the door at the exact same time. Kaoru waited for Kenshin to look at her and smile; he always enjoyed the simple coincidences in life…but this time, he didn't; he just looked straight ahead and made his way to the apartment's gate.
Fuming, Kaoru went after him. They took the lift to the third floor, all the while with her glaring at him, her sapphire orbs burning twin holes in the back of his head. They got to their apartment, and Kenshin took out his key and unlocked the door. They both went inside. Kenshin closed the door and took off his jacket to hang it on the wooden peg, and she made her way to the bedroom directly.
She plopped down on the bed, setting her books on the bedside cabinet. She sighed as she kicked off her heels and shrugged off her coat; this really had been an exhausting day for her, and she was glad half of it was over…just another seven hours and thirty minutes and it will be officially over…she just couldn't wait.
Suddenly, she realized she was feeling extremely hungry. She hadn't had any breakfast and she didn't feel like eating while she was in campus…she needed her energy now.
Kaoru got up and went for the kitchen. Kenshin was already there, and he was looking in the fridge for something to eat. Kaoru waited till he grabbed what he wanted before reaching out for the fridge's door handle. Kenshin's next words stopped her.
'I wish you were here, Kaoru,' he murmured, looking sadly at the tuna fish can he was holding.
Kaoru stared at him. 'What are you talking about, Kenshin? I am here,' she told him.
Kenshin seemed to ignore her. 'If you come back, I swear I'll never complain about your cooking ever again…I just want you back,' he choked. He pulled out a chair and sat on the table; he rested his elbows on the table and put his face in his hands. 'I just want you back.'
Kaoru stared at him in disbelief. 'Kenshin! What's wrong with you? I'm right here! I haven't gone any where!' she cried, sounding exasperated.
Kenshin's shoulders shook as he sobbed, and Kaoru walked cautiously towards him, a look of utmost concern on her face. But when Kenshin spoke again, his words made her really freeze in her tracks.
'Why did you have to go to that stupid party and get yourself killed in a car crash?' he said hoarsely.
A flash of memory passed before her eyes. A memory of her car crashing into a lamp post…
Kaoru inhaled sharply. The car crash…I was drunk and I was driving my car and…that nightmare wasn't just a nightmare…it was real…
Kaoru's knees buckled and she grabbed onto the back of the chair for support. She held out her hand before her and stared at it.
But I look so solid…how can I be dead? I can't be dead…it's not possible!
Even as she looked, her hand slowly started fading before her eyes. She stared at it in shock…and suddenly, everything came to her…she understood everything…
She had gone to the party and Kenshin's hadn't gone with her then. She had gotten into a drinking competition with Chizuru, and had driven home in her drunken state…except that she never got home…all those thoughts she had of returning home and finding Kenshin asleep were just fragments of her imagination…
That's why Kenshin had been ignoring her the whole day, that's why no cab stopped for her, that's why the professor frowned when she walked into the lecture hall; he wasn't frowning at her, he was frowning because the door had opened of its own accord. That's why nobody spoke to her today, that's why all the professors left her questions unanswered, that's why Chizuru didn't even come near her that day…that's why Kenshin had a new car…because she had destroyed their old one in the car crash…the car crash where she died. She was dead…she was just a mere ghost now.
Kenshin had stopped crying and was quietly opening the can with the can opener, although she noticed that his eyes where bloodshot and his face was tearstained.
'Kenshin…' she choked, tears rolling down her own cheeks.
Kenshin's image as he sat and opened the can slowly started shrinking away from her. It started getting smaller and smaller, no matter how she reached out and groped for it.
'No! Kenshin!' she cried.
Kenshin looked up, and for a moment she thought he could actually hear her, but he just reached out for the cabinet above his head and pulled out a plate for him.
'Kenshin…' she whimpered, the tears just flowing from her eyes and down her pretty face. 'No…please…'
The comforting, although simple, image of Kenshin sitting at the table eating his lunch continued to fade until it was no more. And Kaoru found herself in a pitch-black place. She was alone now. She was supposed to be alone. She was no longer a part of the world where Kenshin lived, no matter how badly she wanted to be.
She was dead.
Kenshin stepped up before his wife's tombstone, holding the bouquet of white tulips tightly between his arms.
It had been two months since Kaoru had died in a car crash, but that didn't make it hurt any less than it had done in the first day. Even though many days have passed, Kenshin still hoped to wake up some day and find Kaoru next to him on the bed, looking at him with those beautiful sapphire orbs of hers and smiling at him as she did. But then he'd find the bed empty, and all the awful memories would come crashing back on him.
He would remember the phone call he got in the middle of the night, he would remember going to the accident scene, he'd remember watching as the paramedics pulled Kaoru's mangled body out of the destroyed car…he'd remember the paramedics bearing Kaoru away on a stretcher…the painful expression which clouded her features…and then he'd remember how he had collapsed in the street…
His friends had done everything to help him, but none of their generous attempts was able to make up for Kaoru's death…nothing would.
And somehow, even though he knew he had nothing to do with it, he blamed himself for her death. He had told her not to go; he had a bad feeling about the party since the morning and didn't want her to go. But Kaoru had just told him to quit being silly and had gone without him. Maybe if he'd gone with her he'd have stopped her from getting too drunk…or maybe he'd have even driven the car back home…but he didn't go, he just stayed at home and waited for her to return…and she never did.
Kenshin sighed and bent down towards the grave. He rested the bouquet at the foot of the tombstone, and straightened up again. Tears stung his eyes as he looked at it.
Kaoru had always loved tulips…
'I love you, Kaoru, I always will,' he whispered.
A cool gust of wind brushed against his face, and he could've almost sworn it carried Kaoru's sweet voice with it, saying, 'I love you, too, Kenshin,'
A/N: Aaaah, so sad, isn't it? So tell me people, how did you like it? I just had to write this story once I got the idea for it; it sounded so good and I was really excited about it. So, if you did like it, then please review…and if you didn't like it, just review anyway. Thanks!